Alleged bin Laden tape a call to arms
DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- A voice purported to be that of Osama bin Laden issued a call to arms Tuesday for Muslims to fight against any U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and offered battle strategies aimed at causing the highest number of American casualties.
The 16-minute message believed to be from the al Qaeda leader was broadcast on the Qatar-based, Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera.
"We want to let you know and confirm to you that this war of the infidels that the U.S. is leading with its allies ... we are with you and we will fight in the name of God," the speaker said. (Full story)
"Our brothers the mujahedeen in Iraq, don't worry about America's lies and their powers and their military might," he said. "We also advise you to drag the forces into fighting you in street fights. Take them into farms, into cities, and fight them in there ... they will be losing a lot of lives." (Iraqi military movements)
U.S. officials said the tape does seem to be from bin Laden, and that a technical analysis will be done. Officials also said this tape was of much better quality than the previous one presumed to be from bin Laden, which Al-Jazeera broadcast in November. A U.S. analysis of that tape concluded it extremely likely the tape was authentic.
Word of the tape first emerged earlier in the day when U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told a Senate panel a new message had surfaced believed to be bin Laden claiming he is "in partnership with Iraq."
But while the broadcast message declared solidarity with Iraqis, it made no mention of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and even denounced his socialist Baath party as "infidels."
However, in an interview with Al-Jazeera, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher defended Powell's assessment that bin Laden and Saddam were "bound by a common hatred," despite their very different ideologies.
Boucher said bin Laden confirmed that in the tape. "He says it doesn't matter if people are socialist -- we're going to fight together with them to destroy everything that we can."
On the tape, the purported voice of bin Laden said that whomever helps America in any war on Iraq -- even by words -- "they have to know that they are outside this Islamic nation. Jordan and Morocco and Nigeria and Saudi Arabia should be careful that this war, this crusade, is attacking the people of Islam first."
He urged "good Muslims" to join together in overthrowing "leaderships that work as a slave to America" and encouraged suicide attacks against the so-called enemies of Islam.
A senior Bush administration official who listened to the tape said that, if authentic, "At best it is a terrorist making common cause with a brutal dictator and at worst it demonstrates a burgeoning alliance of terror."
• An emergency session of NATO abruptly ended Tuesday after 30 minutes without resolution on whether to defend Turkey in the event of war with Iraq. NATO spokesman Eyves Brodeur said member states would continue to meet informally "through the night to try and find common ground." NATO was plunged into the crisis Monday after France, Germany and Belgium blocked U.S.-led efforts to send defensive military hardware to Turkey, NATO's only Muslim nation and the only NATO member that borders Iraq. (Full story)
• The United States and France are drafting competing documents for the U.N. Security Council about the next step in the Iraqi crisis, diplomats said Tuesday. The U.S. document could call Iraq in "material breach" of Resolution 1441 and authorize military action, a U.S. official said. The French document reportedly would authorize more aggressive inspections enforced by many more inspectors.
• U.S. intelligence has noticed that Iraq has moved Scud missile launching equipment next to mosques and historic sites in an apparent effort to preserve launchers from a possible U.S. attack. It also has detected shipments of explosives into southern Iraq that may be intended for oil fields. (Full story)
• At a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA Director George Tenet said two dozen members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which he called "indistinguishable" from al Qaeda, and two senior planners have been "operating freely" in Baghdad. (Full story)
• A Vatican envoy arrived Tuesday in Baghdad on a mission for peace and said he would deliver a "personal message" from Pope John Paul II to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "I have come to encourage all efforts for peace," Cardinal Roger Etchegaray said. "War cannot be the last solution. It would be the worse solution, and no one must be resigned to it." (Full story)